Apply to be a part of the Texas Innovation Lab Cohort


The Center for Youth Ministry Training has been awarded a grant from the Texas Methodist Foundation to create a second cohort of the Youth Ministry Innovation Laboratory. The Lab is designed to develop new models for ministry that are both practical and theologically grounded and that seek to better intersect with the real lives of adolescents.

The “Lead Innovators,” will be walking through our Theological Innovation Process. During this process, they will prototype their ideas for youth ministry in their congregation with an innovation team that they assemble.




Application Process






If your application is successful, you will begin a two-year process that will culminate in your church prototyping and testing an innovative form of youth ministry uniquely designed for your context.  

During the application process and throughout the grant, Lead Innovators will work closely with your Youth Ministry Innovation Team (YMIT).



Anyone serving in a lead youth ministry role (youth pastor, youth director, student ministries pastor, etc.) in a United Methodist Church in Texas is eligible to apply on behalf of their congregation. Preference will be given to applicants who (a) are graduates (alumni/fellows) of CYMT, (b) have served in their congregation for more than 30 months, (c) are serving in a current or former CYMT partner congregation, and (d) demonstrate aptitude in understanding and operating out of a practical theological framework.  

Youth Ministry Innovation Team

You will assemble a team of six to nine individuals from your congregation that includes at least two teenagers, a parent, and a committee member (SPRC, Session, Elder, Vestry, etc). Some team members may take on two roles, but each of the following roles must be filled: (1) The Visionary is the person with big ideas who is looking to the future; (2) The Administrator is a detail-oriented person who identifies problems before they happen; (3) The Iconoclast isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers and challenge the status quo; (4) The Helpful Skeptic questions ideas and helps the team think through potential issues more fully; (5) The Communicator is able to succinctly explain ideas, concepts, and visions; (6) The Champion is able to win people over with passion and charisma; (7) The Connector knows everybody and can connect the team to the right resources; (8) The Outsider isn’t directly connected to the youth ministry but can represent the mindset of the congregation; (9) The Creative is a walking Pinterest Board who is able to spice up even the mundane.

Over the two-year process, your YMIT will work closely together: having meetings at least monthly while also participating in the Brain Trust and Regional Trainings together.

Our Theological Innovation Process

Research and design firms all over the world have discovered that innovation happens through a planned process. After looking at a number of these processes, we discovered that they parallel the consensus model of practical theology. We merged the best elements of design thinking processes with this method of practical theology to create a robust and workable, 5 Step Theological Innovation Process for the purpose of ministry with young people. 




March-April 15: Applications Open

April 15: Deadline to complete Step 1 of application

May 3: Deadline to complete Step 2 of application

May 24: Deadline to complete Step 3 of application

June 14: Deadline to complete Step 4 of application

July: Notification of Acceptance
Pre-Think Tank meetings begin

August: Ongoing pre-launch meetings with your team

September 20-21: Think Tank
Phase 1 begins

October-December: Team working through Phase 1



January-February: Phase 2

February: Half-day training event

February-April: Phase 3

April-August: Phase 4

September: Shark Tank (required team event)

September-December: Phase 5

Risk Capital (Money)

As Lead Innovator of your congregation’s innovation team, you will receive a $2,500 stipend paid in installments as your church’s innovation team reaches its benchmarks. This money can be used as you see fit, e.g., additional income, creating a personal care plan for your own mental health and physical wellness, taking a dream vacation, paying for date nights and babysitting, or hiring additional administrative help to reduce your workload.

Churches accepted into the program will have the opportunity to apply for grants up to $6,000. These grants are need-based and will be awarded to help your congregation purchase the necessary resources to prototype, test, and scale innovative youth ministry models.